IJsselstein, Thursday, 13 January 2005 03:28:26
When the Americans took over the Philippines (together with Puerto Rico and Cuba, and a few minor islands) from Spain in 1898, the U.S. suddenly became a colonial power in some parts of the world they knew very little about. After the destructive Philippine-American war, many archives were purposely destroyed, and little information was available. To complicate things further, those documents that were available were scattered around the world, and mostly written in Spanish.
|The B&R CD-Rom|
To remedy this, and to celebrate their 150th birthday, the Bank of the Philippine Islands reissued the entire set on two CD-Roms, to be distributed to selected schools, and to be sold to the public for 1,730 pesos, which places the set within reach of many.
On the CD-Roms, you will find scans of each page of the set, conveniently stored in an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file per volume, complete with a table of contents and hyperlinks for easy navigation. The page are in general clearly scanned, although a few have scratches or are slightly blurred, and many are slightly slanted. I haven't seen unreadable pages yet. The CD-Roms also include an installer for the Acrobat Reader (4.0), if you do not happen to have it installed yet.
A missed opportunity is that you cannot do full-text searches. This would have been fairly easy to achieve using OCR software, and storing the text behind the page-images, such that the imperfections of OCR would not be visible.
Overall, it is great to have these works available again, and the easy to use format is worthy of emulation. It would be great to have, for example, the volumes of the Census of the Philippine Islands available, the numerous anthropological studies made in the early part of the twentieth century, or a complete run of now difficult to obtain early Philippine magazines and newspapers.
The CD-Rom can be ordered on-line from www.myAyala.com for PHP 1730, and from www.defensor.org for USD 49. Both charge outrageous shipping costs to international destinations, so prepare to have somebody receive it in the Philippines, and forward it to you.
Other Filipiniana CD-Roms can be obtained from www.filipinaslibary.org.ph
A few pages (about 15) are missing on this CD-Rom. Since that can be quite frustrating if you're studying a certain subject, I've asked somebody to scan these for me. If you want them, please contact the me. I am currently working to convert all volumes (except for the index) into searchable text using OCR and distributed proofreading (your help is most welcome!), but that will take an estimated two years to complete. The finished volumes can be found, in easy readable text format, in our library.